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Twisted Metal interview: Anthony Mackie and Stephanie Beatriz on winning over haters

Kate Harrold

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Twisted Metal interview: Anthony Mackie and Stephanie Beatriz on winning over haters

Featured Image Credit: Paramount+

After impressing and entertaining viewers in the United States, Twisted Metal is now available in the UK. As of today, UK-based viewers will be able to enjoy the entirety of season one with all 10 episodes dropping as a bingeable box set on Paramount+.

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Twisted Metal is undoubtedly one of the more interesting video game adaptations to grace our screens as of late. Its source material, the classic PlayStation vehicular combat series, is hardly known for its narrative prowess and yet Zombieland and Deadpool duo Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, alongside Michael Jonathan Smith, have managed to craft an exhilarating tale that both pays homage to the games and entertains brand new fans alike.

Described as a “high-octane action comedy,” Twisted Metal follows motor-mouthed outsider John Doe, portrayed by Anthony Mackie, a “milkman” tasked with transporting a precious package across a post-apocalyptic United States filled with zany individuals and barbaric factions. John is helped by the mysterious Quiet, played by Stephanie Beatriz, a fellow outsider he picks up along the way.

We sat down with Anthony Mackie and Stephanie Beatriz to talk about the show’s unique tone, the rising legitimacy of video game narratives in Hollywood, and how their past characters would fare in Twisted Metal’s brutal landscape.

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Take a look at our interview with Anthony and Stephanie below.

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Twisted Metal has the DNA of writers Reese and Wernick all over it with its clever quips that wouldn’t be out of place coming out of the mouth of everybody’s favourite Marvel superhuman mercenary. That being said, it would be reductive to refer to Twisted Metal simply as a comedy.

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While there are plenty of laughs to be had, the show also examines a number of heavier themes including isolation and violence. I was intrigued to hear from Stephanie and Anthony about the challenges that come with portraying a character that straddles those juxtaposing tones, offering as much levity as they do seriousness and depth.

“One of the things I think you have to think about is where the scene is happening in the scope of the story,” Stephanie began. “Luckily, we were able to read and see all of these scripts before we even began shooting so you can sort of see what the ride of the show is going to be. But honestly, a lot of it is trust.”

She continued, “You know, trusting that you're trying to honestly tell the story of whatever moment you're [in]. The tone of something kind of darker and more real is very different from something really heightened and full of a lot of, let's say, action or characters moving around in a space very quickly.”

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Twisted Metal / Credit: Paramount+
Twisted Metal / Credit: Paramount+

“I don't feel as much [that] it's a balance for me to find. It's more the job of our showrunner [and] the editing team asking, ‘How many jokes are we going to squeeze into the scene? Maybe we pull back a little bit so that the scene coming after feels a different way?’ It's really in [their] hands.”

Video game adaptations have come a long way. Once upon a time, it would be announced that your favourite game was getting an adaptation and you’d roll your eyes, knowing full well that a box office bomb was on the way. That’s no longer the case.

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The Last of Us, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, and Twisted Metal are amongst some of the projects ushering in a new era. To me, that success is down to the fact that video game adaptations have stopped trying to play out like a game. Gone are the days of trying to emulate gameplay. Instead, creatives are asking the question of ‘What is it that connects players to this franchise?’ whether that be its central narrative, characters, or world.

This rising sense of legitimacy surrounding video game narratives in Hollywood is something I was keen to ask about. “It’s a different time,” Anthony said. “We're at a point now where generationally, we can get a parent and a kid together, and they can go together and try to relate with this project,” something that the actor has been able to do himself.

Twisted Metal / Credit: Paramount+
Twisted Metal / Credit: Paramount+

“And that's what makes it so much fun now, because I'm introducing my kid to my generation [of games] instead of having to have him kill me in Minecraft all day. You know, we can actually do some stuff that was cool to me and relate in that regard. I think with superhero movies and with cartoon movies [too], they're kind of in the same vein. Entertainment has become a family property now as opposed to a date night or adult property. And I think that's where that sweet spot is.”

John and Quiet are an unlikely team, not just because John adores the sound of his own voice and Quiet is, well, quiet. Here are two strangers and lone wolves forced to trust one another with their lives. It’s quite clear that Anthony and Stephanie had a blast developing the burgeoning rapport between these two.

“From the first chemistry read with me and Anthony, I knew very quickly that he likes to work the same way I do, which is loose and fast and fun,” Stephanie began. “Nothing's too serious. We're just having a good time, trying to figure out what's the best thing for the scene. I think it's also just really fun to work with somebody that's good [and] quick.”

“And Anthony is neither of those things so it’s hard - it's a hard slog,” she sarcastically quipped, much to the amusement of Anthony.

Twisted Metal / Credit: Paramount+
Twisted Metal / Credit: Paramount+

“I think that [also] has to do with trust,” Anthony added. “From the first Zoom we met on, to the time we got on set, to the time we wrapped, it was easy to be ourselves.”

Stephanie added: “Anthony's last day, he wrapped and I ran at him and jumped on him and gave him a big hug from my heart. And he was like, ‘That was the shortest vertical jump I've ever seen’. Like that. That's sort of an encapsulation of the relationship between Quiet and John as well.”

Twisted Metal isn’t for the faint of heart though, despite this levity. The comedy is interspersed with some grisly and gory scenes. You can only respect John and Quiet for having to endure surviving in such a brutal landscape. With Anthony and Stephanie both having long and illustrious careers, I was curious to find out which of their past characters they thought would fare best within the world of Twisted Metal.

“I think, for me, Rosa Diaz [Brooklyn Nine-Nine] would probably survive a pretty long time in this universe,” Stephanie replied.

“I would say Nate Ruffin in We Are Marshall,” Anthony said. “He was kind of like a badass, kickass, old-school dude. A chop wood, plant tomato bushes, go fishing-type dude. I think he would survive really well in this world.”

When you’re part of an adaptation, you’re inevitably going to encounter fans with certain expectations. I asked Anthony and Stephanie if they’d managed to engage with the Twisted Metal community - namely, if they had any standout encounters.

Twisted Metal / Credit: Paramount+
Twisted Metal / Credit: Paramount+

“I really love the quotes online where people are like, ‘Thought it was gonna suck and it's pretty good’. That's my favourite,” Stephanie joked. An unexpected answer but I appreciated the level of candour. Winning naysayers over is no easy task.

“Recently I was at a restaurant,” Anthony began. “And I guess somebody at a restaurant texted this guy and said I was at the restaurant, so he texted all his friends and they pulled up with three Twisted Metal cars. They love this show so much [that] they kitted out their cars with the fake guns and the lights and all this s**t. [...] That was pretty cool - and that was literally last week. They had all these souped up crazy cars, but it was pretty dope. I couldn't believe the amount of work they did.”

While the UK premiere of Twisted Metal may have just arrived, it’s only the beginning of all the fun. Anthony stopped by last December’s The Game Awards to announce that the show is returning for a second season.

The entirety of season one is now available to watch now on Paramount+ in the UK.

Topics: Interview, TV And Film, Sony, PlayStation

Kate Harrold
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